Project Focus: 4516 Fayetteville, AR
Not only was this former industrial facility site challenging from a demolition and grading standpoint, but City of Fayetteville personnel were not particularly excited to welcome a new Walmart store. Perhaps the most challenging aspect was the rezoning process. All but one City Planning Commission member voted against rezoning the site from industrial to commercial; however, City Council had the final say. The City Council meeting was more of a circus than a professional meeting. At one point, one council member randomly made a motion to rezone the property Urban Thoroughfare, which would have made it impossible to build a typical neighborhood market. Fortunately, CEI staff was present to help facilitate getting the needed rezoning approval. After the rezoning victory, City staff also made subsequent approvals challenging; however, CEI worked hard to keep the project on schedule and obtain all necessary approvals and permits.
In addition to the city challenges, site features and constraints made this project even more difficult. The site housed multiple abandoned industrial buildings including an old candle factory, which created some environmental issues. Also challenging was the fact that this 6-acre site had nearly 40-feet of fall across it. With the City of Fayetteville’s mandate to preserve a certain percentage of existing tree canopy, CEI opted to use an Anchorplex wall system to minimize the disturbance behind the wall and save precious tree canopy. Given the site constraints, CEI designed an underground system to handle the storm water detention requirements. Regarding access, city code did not allow access on major roads however, CEI obtained a variance to allow a drive on Martin Luther King Boulevard in addition to drives on S. Hill Avenue and S. Government Avenue.
Recognizing the potential for this to be a high-volume store being near the University of Arkansas, Walmart opted to increase the parking ratio rather than build a fueling station for this store. The problem was that the City of Fayetteville limited the parking to a 4.0 ratio. City code does allow for increased parking if certain elements are added to the site. In order to obtain approval for the desired 5.0 parking ratio, CEI had to be creative, including adding a bio-swale along S. Government Avenue. Additional landscaping was also required; however, CEI found a way to keep the additions from violating Walmart’s Golden Principles for store development.
CEI had to overcome other site challenges, one of which was the late addition of online grocery pickup (OGP). With the site already seemingly maxed out from a layout and grading perspective, CEI used creative grading techniques to provide the necessary “flat” area for OGP along the S. Government Avenue frontage. CEI also acquired a variance approval to allow a portion of the canopy in the building setback.